Shatterzone

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Shatterzone is a space opera role-playing game by West End Games. The game went out of print in 1997 after the company went bankrupt. It is now back in print, owned and published by Precis Intermedia.

The Shatterzone universe shares much in common with the Star Wars role-playing game produced by the same company, Star Wars but which were turned down by the legal department of Lucasfilm.[citation needed] As such, the universe of Shatterzone shares some structural similarities to the Star Wars expanded universe including an intergalactic government called the Consortium (like the Republic from Star Wars) run from a central region of space known as the Core Worlds, large megacorps that run galactic affairs (a theme common in the cyberpunk genre of storytelling), and a super-industrialized capital world, called Centaurus but similar to Star Wars' Coruscant. Likewise, there is a sentiment of xenophobia in the setting similar to that of the Empire in Star Wars. Humans, Glahns, and Ishantras, the three ruling races of the Consortium and a few others are given full citizen status while other races suffer under prejudice and second-class-citizenship. In an interview with the creator of Shatterzone, Scott Palter, he refuted the connection stating that his intention was for a "darker setting, more to my tastes than Star Wars" citing inspiration instead from C.J.Cherryh’s Company Wars.

The namesake feature of the setting is the "Shatterzone", an unchartable and mysterious sector of space consisting of dark matter and strange gravitational phenomena as well as strange energy storms and asteroid fields. The Shatterzone is home to cult worshippers, bands of alien exiles called "bolters" seeking to flee Armagon oppression, and groups of deep space miners looking to make a fortune off the rare minerals to be had in this unusual sector of space.

Alien races[edit]

In Shatterzone there are three classes of race: Citizens, which only Humans, Glahns, and Ishantras have the right to become; Allied, which consist of races who have signed nonaggression pacts with the Consortium, but which have no rights to representation; and Hostile/Unidentified, which are considered suspicious and are treated with caution.

  • Glahns - one of the three ruling races in the galaxy, blue skinned humanoids organized into clans
  • Ishantras - another ruling race, immensely varied due to cross-species gene-engineering, who lost their homeworld in an ancient cataclysm
  • Armagons - an incredibly powerful alien empire of various races which rule from beyond the Shatterzone, pillaging and destroying one world after another
  • Yithras - a disagreeable race whose thin, wood-like bodies emanate chill rather than warmth
  • Kestarians - golden-skinned, four-armed matriarchical humanoids who use their allure to influence others
  • Rednas - reptilian humanoids with traditions of violence, whose pre-spacefaring civilization is prized for its metalwork.
  • Veronians - shapeshifters from an unidentified homeworld nearly eradicated by other races out of paranoia
  • Reavers- aggressive humanoids allied with the Armagons as shock troops

Planets and regions[edit]

  • Xenos Sector - a little explored region near the Shatterzone
  • Planet Haven - torn apart in a civil war, now a staging ground for pirates and mercenaries
  • Planet Bartonrealm - corporate owned world, home of BartonCorp
  • Planet Ral Sikkim - desert frontier world claimed by an alliance of pirate organizations
  • Planet Centaurus - superpopulated capital world, Core World and center of civilization
  • Planet Delera - home to race of technophobes
  • Planet Mandamus - mining planet that produces terraforming compounds
  • Planet Vantage Point - old corporate world overthrown by colonists
  • Planet Aureus - arid world populated by mystics who disbelieve in space travel

Timeline[edit]

Current era is the 25th Century.

The development of coldsleep technology and mastery of nuclear fusion engines enable easy travel within our solar system, and the possibility of extrasolar colonization. The overwhelming desire to escape the restrictions of life on Earth drive some to establish illegal "black" colonies without the consent of government. The Secessionist Wars ensue and the first intergalactic fleets of warships are created.

2276: Humans discover a derelict alien space vessel, and while the science of how its quantum drive (or Q-Drive) functions is beyond the grasp of human science, it is a relatively simple mechanism which researchers are soon able to recreate and mass produce. Using the new alien technology, human ships become capable of reaching speeds 365 times the speed of light. Abundant faster-than-light engines allow a phenomenon called the Diaspora, in which the world population drops from 25 billion to 500 million over the next two centuries as extrasolar colony worlds become genuine home worlds to large populations of humans.

2320: First contact with the Glahn.

2486: The establishment of the Consortium of Worlds, a joint government of the homeworlds of the Humans, Glahn, and Ishantra.

References[edit]

Bernstein, B. (2016, February 5). Q&A: Scott Palter (formerly of West End Games) [Web log interview]

Shatterzone: 1993, West End Games. ISBN 0-87431-227-2